History of Mughal Empire

Shalamar Garden Lahore Shah Jahan’s Masterpiece

Shalamar Garden Lahore Shah Jahan’s Masterpiece. Shalamar Garden Lahore is such a wonderful sight, and even the people of our own country don’t know about it. It’s a garden that’s been constructed based on a theme, it’s a thematic garden. If you read the world’s horticultural magazines, you read that these thematic gardens are a modern concept they were first designed by the English in the 18th century, or that it was in France in the 19th century.

So they say it’s a modern concept, where as here in the year 1641, Mughal emperor Shah Jahan made this Shalamar Garden Lahore based upon a theme. Shalimar means ‘Paradise’ And such an earthly paradise where all elements of nature flora fauna, plants and water coexist in complete harmony. They’re growing in complete harmony So that was a the theme of Shalamar Garden. An earthly paradise. So not many people know about this, they know the word but don’t know that this was made on a theme.

Construction of Garden

Its construction began in the year 1641 and completed in 1642 and the water works here Which I will tell you about later on were all are completed in 1644, because that was a lot of work. The history of Shalamar Garden Lahore is very interesting. Emperor Shah Jahan, the Mughal emperor, gathered a group of experts which included his engineers architects hydrologists, and horticulturists, who all came together and laid the foundation of this garden and built it.

The main person who completed this was their engineer named Ali Mardan Khan who is very famous and actually, it’s up to him who made this garden and its important feature is it’s a hydraulic system, all these fountains you see here were made in that time they are 153 fountains in total and they’re all 400 years old. Lahore has always been a dry region, It did not rain here much so how did they collect this much water? Not just here, there are fountains upstairs also.

Mughal Empire

There are fountains along the walkways as well so how did they bring all this water? So Ali Mardan Khan came up with the brilliant idea, there’s a place in India Mathpur, and from there he said we’d bring the water from Ravi. To that end, he constructed a canal which was 100 miles or 161 km long. He brought the water here through that, and he made tanks which stored this water and they used gravity to bring the water down. These tanks, when in 1999 the grand trunk road was being widened, in that process one of the tanks was destroyed.

And one tank remains but the function of this tank of bringing water to these fountains is no longer happening because there’s a lot of construction that’s happened like the metro and other roads. Now they store water on the terrace and the same waters circulate and due to the current problem of dengue in Lahore they can’t leave stagnant water.

To tackle that problem they’ve now put fish in the water which can eat the larvae of the dengue so the water is like you know it can be used for circulation and this is how all the fountains are working So basically it was Ali Mardan Khan who I’d like to credit, obviously it was patronized by Shah Jahan, he got it made But the expert and the genius in this was Ali Mardan Khan who should be credited Which is a part of our history and we need to tell people about that him that he was the one who did all the technical work of the Shalamar Garden Lahores.

The Masterpiece of the Mughal Empire

It took him almost 2 years to make this canal. It took him 2 years to bring the water here and get it running throughout Here if you see red sandstone has been used predominantly. You see the baradari and fountains made out of it The main thing is this was all built 400 years ago so you’re left thinking how durable things were made in that time Made in such good quality That it is still functional And the main reason for this is, something which is not taught to any of us is that time.

The literacy rate was very high the literacy rate was in the 16th and 17th centuries in India, it was around 98%. People say that the subjects that were studied were astrology astronomy and mathematics additionally Muslims used to study the Quran Hindus used to study their books Vedas and Christians used to read the Bible. They read their books Even people in the villages the women the old people all were educated It’s a point to ponder that all these monuments the Mughal Empire built with such precision could have been built by illiterate masons.

Shalamar Garden

No. Even the masons at that time their workers were educated so they could work with such precision you don’t even see a minor difference anywhere in their precision working so obviously it is not the work of an illiterate person Compare the masonry work today to the work done by those people and there’s another interesting thing there was a professor who said something In the Mughal Empire era, people didn’t want their name to become famous.

They didn’t want their names to be written on the things they’d built or made; they wanted the work to speak for itself. our work should speak for itself people should be able to tell who built it by looking at it So it was our tradition and an old part of culture which has vanished with time In fact these things and traditions need to be revived now the next generation should be told about these traditions and that they need to be revived and carried forward for the next generation.

Creation of Shah Jahan

And how nice were these traditions so you know. This is also a part of all the heritage buildings that are made here. I’d like to say that this was Ali Mardan Khan’s masterpiece, these Shalamar Garden Lahore were which showed his genius and now, this has been recognized by the world also. By the World Heritage sites. In 1641-44, how was this Shalamar Garden made with such precision? When modern architecture or machinery didn’t exist And working after 400 years which again itself is such a big thing.

400 years is a long time for anything to turn to rubble. so these things are still there And with a little bit of care and cleaning up they’re working and they look as if they were made a few years back and I’ll tell you another thing A few years ago, we went to Japan for a flower show and there they were giving us a tour about 40-50 people had gone from Pakistan and they were showing us trees saying this is a 50 years old tree we cut it here and it becomes this we cut it here and it becomes this And here in Lahore we have trees which are 300, 400 years old but we never tell anyone about it.

History of Shalamar Garden Lahore

We’re not proud of them we focus on the negative things when people visit from different countries we don’t tell them about any of it that in our country all this also exists These things show how advanced our ancestors were. how immaculate was their work and we only focus on the negative One of the princesses in Japan took us to a palace saying it was a hundred-year-old moss garden and the palace is also a hundred years old we here in Lahore has so many forts which are hundreds of years old.

Some even date back a thousand years back So we should tell the newer generation about these things so they can tell others that look how rich our history is and how advanced our culture is We’ve abandoned all this and we’ve eliminated all the history. It’s a fact that no man can prosper unless they learn from their history you don’t want to make the same mistakes, you don’t want to reinvent the wheel you’ve to know your history and learn from it.

Hayat Bakhsh

That’s the only way you can go forward I say the same things to my horticulture club members don’t only focus on the new methods and medicines new sprays that are in the market. don’t do that you’ve to learn from the old methods also like in the olden times, people didn’t have medicines and problems existed but they were solved in a natural organic manner research those things, test them and learn from those things.

Carry those things forward Make use of your history and make use of things we’ve been doing successfully in the past and then go on to the future this is the need of the day and this is how it should be done. Now about this garden, I’d like to tell you how it was made. Shalamar Garden is made on 3 levels, and it has 3 terraces The lowest terrace is called Hayat Bakhsh and it’s the terrace where the general public would enter and enjoy it. it is called the Hayat Bakhsh.

The Reflective Gardening

Then we have the main central terrace where we’re sitting is known as the Faiz Bakhsh Faiz Bakhsh was for the king’s courtiers they would gather here and it was the most beautiful terrace because there were 153 fountains here. Back then this main terrace, it’s mentioned in the old books that the marigolds you see here, were cypress trees that would cast a reflection in the water so the concept of reflective gardening was invented by the Mughal Empire.

It’s an amazing concept that is very rarely seen even in European countries I went to Lausanne, a city in Switzerland a few years ago I saw an old bridge that they say is a hundred years old. Upon the roof of that bridge flowers have been painted and the same flowers were also placed in wooden boxes right next to that bridge. So when those flowers would cast a reflection on the water you could see the flowers on the roof. You know. The reflecting gardening concept.

400-Year-Old Garden

I was shocked to discover that this concept was done 400 years ago at that time they had planted cypress trees here and they would reflect in the water here we’re discovering a lot of things You really can’t help but marvel at how they developed this and how ancient this is. We go out and are so shocked to see these things and lament over how we don’t have any of that here that we’d learn from them.

And study there we need to we need to revive all that We need to tell people that this thing I think originated over here that’s what I think because back then there was nothing in Europe there, they say so themselves that the Europeans were going through the dark ages then. in the 16th century, I met a European once who said that at that time Europeans didn’t even have clean water to drink. when the Mughal Empire built so much here this advancement and knowledge needed to be promoted and told to other people about.

A Great Place to Discover History

To promote our heritage and tell young people that you have to learn from here not from there we have to revive these things here and tell everyone about it Now this place has been given to the walled city that’s a very nice development because this area was cleaned and renovated many flowers were planted and then it was opened to the public its open for everybody to come any time of the day and see This concept we need to tell to others also that this is our thing.

We don’t have to ruin it, we have to enjoy it, learn from it, and look at it, but we don’t have to damage it we don’t have to scratch the walls, litter, and break the plants. We need to teach people this as we open these spaces for them that this is your own thing and that they can enjoy it but not spoil it. Like we go abroad and we look at their gardens and enjoy them and how proudly they tell us about them that this is 100 years old.

Farah Bakhsh Place

This is 150 years old and how well they maintain them InshaAllah we’ll have that here also and we need to promote it amongst the people that they need to keep it this way and learn from it. There’s a terrace behind us and there’s a waterfall there also that you see the terrace you see above this is called Farah Bakhsh Farah Bakhsh means the delightful terrace.

This terrace was reserved for the king and the queen and the princesses General public was not allowed here The king would enter from the lowest Hayat Buksh terrace on an elephant, then he would come here on this terrace from here he would climb the elephant steps all the way to Farah Baksh it was a completely separate terrace It was reserved for the Harem, for the king and the queen and the prince and princesses.

The Beauty of Shalamar Garden Lahore

The most beautiful terrace however is the Faiz Bakhsh terrace; which has all the fountains, the flowers the plants, and the baradaris It says something about the king that the place he made for his courtiers was more beautiful than the terrace he made for himself which is also beautiful of course but nothing compared to this terrace However, now we have this reversed where we spend more on ourselves instead of others.

For your country, and other things you don’t stress on So that’s another aspect of the generosity of those times another aspect, you know there are a lot of things we conclude as time passes we can’t exactly know for sure but there are a lot of stories left behind which we get to learn from we should follow them when this place was given to walled city a few months ago, this area didn’t have any flowers it had some wild plantation which was done here and it is a main central terrace.

Mughal Garden

So here we made soil this place has been developed with flower beds and marigolds The flower bed is made in the shape of a flower, a petal to be precise You can see the soil, fertilizers were added, rice ash and press mud, and thus the walled city planted all the marigolds here. The most important thing about Mughal Shalamar Garden regarding planting and flowers was that they’d stress upon the importance of scented gardening the element of fragrance was very strong the queens would stress that.

To develop scented gardens so for that they used to plant roses if you’d look at the Kallar Kahaar Noor Jehan had planted only pure roses in that area Even now you can buy products made of the desi gulab, like rose water, etc. It is an industry there now so the concept of scented gardens was also developed by the Mughal Empire here these scented plants were planted and they were planted via mass planting.

Colorful Flowers and Beauty

This is because when you’d step out on the hot summer nights you’d get a whiff of all these beautiful flowers so the concept of scented gardens is an important feature I think this was also introduced by the Mughal Empire which is a part of our horticulture which is a part of our horticultural history over here and we should plant all these things here I’d like to tell you an interesting story they did not have fertilizers then so how did they grow plants?

I came across an article that said that the Mughal Empire Queens used to feed their gardens with lassi. I have a motia arch in my house which was planted by my mother-in-law and it’s about 80 years old I started feeding that arch, two plants were covering the arch with lassi, I’d give it lassi once a week And you cannot imagine the number of flowers and the fragrance and the size of the flower that grew it was just amazing I did not give it any other fertilizer just lassi once a week.

Shah Jahan’s Masterpiece

When I had that analyzed I got to know that lassi has a certain form of calcium that is easily absorbed by the flower head which leads it to have a larger size a stronger scent and a brighter color. So this is also a part of the horticultural history and people should know about these things. we should tell people over here instead of going abroad and marveling over them. Here this door that you see, this is from where the elephant would pass upon which the king would sit Towards its right, you can see these elephant steps. These are the stairs that the elephant would climb.

Look at its steps, they are so broad. Enough so the elephant can step on them it’s gradual, not steep but wide so these are elephant steps To the left you have an old ramp, from where you’d walk to go upstairs. The people would use this to climb up. You can see its tilework and how old it is. look at how old the tiles are The terrace that we’re standing on now is called the Farah Bakhsh terrace, the delightful terrace terrace Shah Jahan had made for his Queen.


Noor Jehan, the light of the world, and it was reserved for the king and his queen, not for the general public The baradari we’re standing on right now is that you can see both the terraces from here but you cannot look up. So this was its specialty. Also, we’ve heard that when the weather was pleasant, the king would come and spend some days with his family. he spent some days here The King’s quarters were also here on this terrace, separate for the king and the queens Now that the walled city has been given this place.

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I’m sure they’ll restore it because there isn’t much to show right now This is the main baradari form where you can see everything and yet you can have some privacy. Another thing about the plantations of that time is that most plantations were of fruit trees; blossoming plants that had a scent too. Flowering trees included pomegranate, allucha, almond, etc. Over some time with climate change, many things that were planted then cannot be planted now.

The weather has changed now, it’s hotter They had citrus gardens, and the blossom of citrus is very fragrant so it’d coincide with their scented gardens they used to plant roses and trees that gave fruit The concept of grass was started by the British It is a modern concept. But the trees were dense and so were the flower beds which were full of flowers from all over the world like tulips, narcissus, etc. We can see that in their paintings. These things used to exist here first; we need to learn from our history. and that is the story and the moral of the whole thing

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History of the Mughal Empire Beginning to End
History of the Mughal Empire Beginning to End

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